Day two had a decidedly more emotional tone to the morning than yesterday’s joking bubbliness. Perhaps we were feeling the bodily energetic effects from having massaged many neurolymphatic reflex points yesterday? Perhaps it was a touching retelling of her own professional and postpartum journey; Suzanne Ko took the stage this morning to enumerate the many beneficial strategies she used to relearn breathing that put her on a successful and healthy trajectory. Ko shared Julie Wiebe's Piston breathing using a balloon to illustrate Pascal’s Principle [hydraulic/pressure] within the pelvic-abdominal region of the body. Brianna Battles was in attendence and further helped us understand how every population that uses postpartum strategies can improve their well-being and performance. This key concept helped me rethink the value of taking a postpartum pelvic floor workshop soon.
Often considered a taboo area and sorely neglected in the general trainer/fitness industry, the pelvic floor remained the interest for the better part of the morning. Dr. Nickleston added his clinical observations about how the tissues around the hip tend to behave when the pelvic floor is overly tensed. The energy of the room brightened up as we retested our squat to our amazement. Indeed, this pelvic floor does need more exploration. Strong and active does not necessarily mean coordinated. Most of the attention was on the timing of this goldilocks area in relation to our breathing, not too tight, not disengaged, but just the right amount at the right time netted us easier and easier retests.
Dr. Cheng led us through ankle movements sieza (a formal japanese sitting posture) and hack squat like drills. Each retest felt easier and had higher fidelity sensation. The day was not filled with countless examples but ideas that spoke to principles for us to later apply in our own way. The main principles undergirding the morning session seemed to say: try improving the communication within the body with by using easy movement through key joint areas and remove interference with that neruological communication. None of these drills involved high threshold strategies or greater force input, alluding to the importance of softer modalities like tai chi and Moshé Feldenkrais’ work. They were surprisingly simple, easy to perform moves that made measurable differences in our test squat performance. Some attendees familiar with Eric Cobb’s Z-Health nodded in agreement. I believe the key ingredient here was attention paid to the task at hand. Our careful noticing, not our harder work was giving us the benefit of feeling more at ease in our movement-body.
Dr. Nickleston restated his preference for working succinctly with the body choosing only the fewest key points to affect at a time. For areas of pain he showed us to work with a foot joint and a neck joint. These two taken together is a form of pain and trauma resetting that sometimes goes by IRT [injury recall technique]. The use of energy testing and point manipulation during the demonstration reminded me of the way Donna Eden teaches energy medicine. She demonstrates that energy can change rapidly and show through the body immediately. This however was framed in the day’s reminder that lifestyle is ultimately how we help construct, maintain, or destroy these pathways to expressing health and happiness.
The zooming in and out needed for this style of presentation reminded one to stabilize the skill that is required to maintain the “50-foot view” of the client while working with changes of perception that are just below the surface of habitual awareness, whispering yet evident to the careful observer.
By the afternoon we had deconstructed quadruped and integrated pelvic floor exercises into the posture. This offered more mapping to that part of the body-mind and magnified inconsistencies we may have had discovered earlier in the day. Dr. Nickleston offered an extrememly easy way to vary rocking by simply changing a hand or a knee position. We ended the afternoon by setting up half-kneeling. Doc Cheng’s disavowed himself of the multitude of half-kneeling exercise variations available on the internet and instead emphasized simply setting the posture up properly. The lesson here, demonstrate mastery via ease. Be able to breathe, and move eyes and head with no strain or stuggle. An important reminder here when he asked us to relax after only a handful of seconds in half-kneeling: the metabolic load of learning a new position can be fatiguing. Take our lead from the babies: explore to discover (rather than achieve), then rest.